creativecommons.org/Graham S Dean Photography
While the roast turkey that Canada enjoys every Christmas may seem pretty common place in a lot of other countries, every country celebrates Christmas a little differently. Every place has its own traditional foods during the holiday season. Some of them may be so crazily bizarre, while others may just sound so delicious that you may want to incorporate them into your own Christmas feast.
Christmas Pudding, United Kingdom
There is no more iconic Christmas food tradition from the United Kingdom than that of the Christmas pudding. The Christmas pudding is usually made weeks ahead of time with fruit, spices, nuts and brandy going into the mix. It is a tradition that each family member gets a stab at stirring the Christmas pudding mixture so that they can make a secret wish with it. The pudding is than steamed for hours than set away to mature. On Christmas Day, it is steamed again than doused in flaming brandy. The outcome of all this work is a dense and moist cake, not unlike pudding in its consistency.
Romeritos In Mole, Mexico
Romeritos is a leafy Mexican shrub that looks a bit like rosemary, giving justification to its name that means ‘little rosemary’. Romeritos gets used in quite a few Christmas dishes like dried shrimp cakes, but primarily it is put into a stew. This stew, named romeritos in mole, consists of potatoes, prickly pear cactus, almonds and prawns.
Shrimp On The Barbie, Australia
Since it is quite hot in Australia during the Christmas season, there is no good reason to stay indoors. In fact, most Australian families celebrate Christmas at the beach with a barbeque. The day is spent sunbathing and cooking up seafood or roasting a turkey on the grill. Jealous?
KFC And Cake, Japan
Japan doesn't celebrate Christmas as a religious or family holiday, but it does celebrate it as a time to spread good cheer. The food tradition for Christmas in Japan is, strangely enough, to eat KFC, or rather to eat fried chicken. KFC is just convenient. So convenient that most people will have to place orders two months in advanced to get some chicken on Christmas. Another Japanese Christmas tradition is to have some cake. These cakes are usually topped with whipped cream and strawberries, making them slightly sweet and refreshing.
Christmas Pickles In Spain, Germany And Michigan, USA
There are two different legends that led to the creation of the Christmas pickle in Spain, Germany, and strangely the isolated tradition in Michigan, USA. One follows that of a Bavarian pickle loving soldier in the American Civil War, and the other involved two boys and a pickle barrel in Spain. Regardless, these three places all adopted the same Christmas tradition of having Christmas pickles. Christmas pickles are for both eating and hiding, challenging the children to find them and get a prize. Regardless, this is truly a unique Christmas food tradition.
Puto Bumbong, The Philippines
Puto bumbong is made with sweet sticky rice called piruruntong, which gives the dessert a purplish colour. This sweet rice is cooked in a hollow bamboo tube over a special steamer. The rice is then spread into cakes, coated with margarine and sprinkled with sugar and grated coconut. It is a beloved dessert for Filipinos on Christmas and other holidays.
Mince Pies In England
It is a sure sign that Christmas is approaching in England when mincemeat pies start showing up everywhere. While at one point they were made with minced meat like lamb or pork, today very little meat is involved. Modern mince pies are filled with minced fruits flavoured with allspice and cinnamon. Mince pies are said to be the favourite food of Father Christmas, so they are left out on Christmas Eve for him with a small glass of milk or brandy. It is thought to be lucky to eat a mince pie every day leading up to Christmas, however if one is offered to you and you refuse it, it is thought to be bad luck. There is quite a fair bit of superstition surrounding this simple treat.
Vitel Tone, Argentina
Due to immigration to Argentina in the 1900s, the country is quite a melting pot of cultures. It is quite common to not only see traditional Latin foods at Christmas, but German and Italian holiday foods as well. One of those traditional foods is Vitel Tone. It was originally a traditional Christmas food in Italy, but it found its way to Argentina and really stuck there. The Vitel Tone is a platter of sliced veal that is then slathered in tuna sauce and capers. This is usually served before the main meal as it is a quite light and has flavours that complement each other.
Sorrel Punch, Jamaica
Sorrel punch is the traditional Christmas drink of Jamaica. It is made from dried hibiscus flowers, known as sorrel, which gives the drink its strong red colour. Other ingredients like cloves and cinnamon are steeped along with the sorrel to create a pungent smelling liquid that Jamaicans drink on Christmas Day. This liquid is filtered then combined with rum to create sweet cocktails.
Jansson's Frestelse, Sweden
Jansson's Frestelse translates into Jansson's temptation, named after a Swedish opera singer in the 1940s. In its essence, the Jansson's Frestelse is a potato, onion and cream casserole with pickled sprats added in. It is described as’ creamy with just a hint of the ocean’. This dish has long since become an integral part of the Swedish smörgåsbord, their traditional Christmas feast.
Nacatamales In Honduras, Nicaragua And Venezuela
Nacatamales are part of the traditional Christmas dinners found in Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. These steamed corn cakes are similar to Mexican tamales, but bigger. The corn meal is combined with meat and vegetables before being wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed for hours. While the nacatamales are an important part of the Christmas dinner in Central America, they can also be found at many special occasions such as weddings or parties.
Doro Wat, Ethiopia
Christmas in Ethiopia, or ‘Ganna’ as it is known there, is celebrated with a church service at dawn, a hockey-like game that is also called Ganna, and then a meal. The traditional Ethiopian dish to eat on Christmas is Doro Wat, which is a spicy chicken stew made from chilies, chicken and vegetables cooked down until it is more of a paste rather than a stew. It is served with boiled eggs and spongy flat bread called Injera.
creativecommons.org/Kim Van Velzen
Panforte has been made in the Tuscan city of Siena since the Middle Ages, however the best recipes are so carefully guarded that it near impossible to recreate this sweet fruit and nut confection at home. However, for those who do manage to snag a recipe, the key to a good panforte is to cook it several days ahead of time so it has a chance for the flavours to mature before served.
Buche de Noel, France
Buche de Noel translates basically to Yule Log, which references the tradition of cutting a giant log to keep burning all through Christmas Eve. The Buche de Noel is a giant log-shaped cake. It is similar to a Swiss roll in the fact that it is a roll cake. However, the jam found in a Swiss roll is replaced by butter cream and the outside is slathered in chocolate frosting, with knife marks to make it look more like a log. Chocolate shavings and pine needles are often added as a garnish to further the imitation of a log. This is definitely the tastiest way of keeping an old tradition alive.
Fried Carp, In The Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, as well as many places in Eastern Europe, the Christmas meal centres around soup rather than a giant turkey or a ham. On the days leading up to Christmas, many families will buy carp and keep them alive in their bathtub until the day arrives. The carp will be fried and served as is with pea soup or cooked into a fish soup. Regardless of what happens to the carp, there is sure to be plenty of potato salad to go along with the meal.
No German Christmas is complete without some Glühwein, or traditional mulled wine. Mulled wine is popular in many countries around the holiday time, but as Germany is the capital of the Christmas markets, it is in abundance. Mulled wine is prepared with cloves, lemon, and cinnamon where it is stewed and served warm to cold guests. This is often served before and after a Christmas dinner in Germany to help their guests unwind and get a little tipsy.
As the story goes, Panettone was created when a lovesick boy managed to get an apprenticeship in the bakery owned by his sweetheart's father. In an effort to impress her, he created what is considered to be a masterpiece in the art of baking – Panettone. Panettone is a sweet bread made with orange zest, almonds and raisins.
It just wouldn't be a Christmas dinner in Russia without starting off the meal with some Zakuski. Zakuski, which means ‘small bits’, are the first course of a Christmas meal. These are small items are like hors d'oeuvres that are serve buffet style on a platter. Items on these platters consist of cured meats, pickled vegetables such as beets or cucumbers, hard cheeses, caviar and black bread to eat all these foods on. Usually only strong flavoured items like the aforementioned foods are served because they pair well with a stiff shot of iced vodka, which is customary during this first course of Christmas dinner in Russia.
Christopsomo literally translates to ‘Christ's Bread’ and it is an important Christmas tradition to Greek Orthodox families. The whole family is involved in the making of this intricate bread as it is said that if the bread is made with care the well-being of the home will be ensured all year long. Families will splurge on the purest and most expensive ingredients. The main loaf of bread is often decorated with extra bits of dough shaped into objects representing the family's life. For example, a family of fishermen will have a boat or a fish, while farmers will have vegetables or animals. It is not the most flavourful Christmas food in the world, but it certainly the most poignant.